Printable Version
Pronunciation: (Verb) sêb-or-dê-nayt, (Adjective) sêb-or-dê-nêt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, adjective

Meaning: 1. (Verb) To make dependent on something or someone else. 2. (Adjective) Lower in rank or position and dependent on something or someone else. 3. (Adjective) Of secondary or less importance.

Notes: The adjective, like so many adjectives on -ate (graduate, moderate, confederate) may be used as a personal noun. The action noun of the verb is subordination; the quality noun of the adjective is subordinance. Subordinary is a synonym of the adjective subordinate.

In Play: The verbal pronunciation emerges in notions like this: "Efficiency is often subordinated to efficacy. This reveals itself in the current media as the subordination of journalism to entertainment; the duty to inform yields to the need to please." The adjectival pronunciation fits sentiments such as this: "Frederick was relegated to a subordinate position, not despite his superior education, but because of it."

Word History: Today's Good word is an English adaptation of subordinatus "ranked lower, subjected to", past participle of subordinare "rank lower, subject to", made up of sub "under, below" + ordinare "to rank, order, arrange". The latter is based on ordo "order, rank, arrangement". Sub comes from PIE (s)up "(up from) under", a reduction of ex "(out) from" + upo "(from) under", source also of Greek hypo "(from) under, below; less". Hypo- is found in many Hellenic borrowings in English, like hypocrisy and hypothermia. Ordo comes from our old friend, PIE ar- "fit together", found in arm, Latin arma "arms", and Greek harmonia "harmony" and arthron "joint". The word for "joint" in Latin was artus. Its diminutive is articulus "small joint", which French honed into article, before English looted it along with thousands of other words. (Now, let's show our gratitude for sharing today's beguiling Good Word to Annette McMullen, whose last suggestion, according to our records, went out in 2012.)

Dr. Goodword,

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